Lee & Me: What I Learned From Raising a Child with Adverse Childhood Experiences.
It's about the bravest thing I've ever done.
This book will be released tomorrow on Amazon and will be FREE to download from September 1-3.
After months of scrutiny, we were deemed acceptable by our adoption counselor, the agency, the US government, and the state of Wyoming. You might think that kind of intensive perseverance would be rewarded, but alas, the wait for a child can be woefully long. For us, it was years.
We started with domestic adoption. We adhered to every pre-adoption step required and were assured that our file was being shared with those seeking adoptive parents. For months and months there was nothing. Maybe we just weren’t that appealing.
As we waited, we were encouraged to explore alternate ideas like soliciting local doctors, lawyers and reproductive clinics. When dropping off our ridiculously glossy family brochures, I felt like we were advertising a cruise or elite summer camp rather than pursuing an adoption. But no matter our strategy, there was no response. The radio silence was deafening.
After months turned to years, we settled into life without the obsession overtaking us.
As sometimes happens, the change came on suddenly. That summer, I was recovering from a trifecta of misfortunes. All within a few months, a dear colleague had passed away from an aggressive form of brain cancer, my husband and I had survived a tornado while golfing, and the engine on my commercial plane failed when I was returning from a work conference. It was one of life’s vortexes that leaves you weary and willing to give up control.
The morning after I finally arrived home from that ill-fated flight, I was nursing a cup of coffee and counting my blessings while I opened my accumulating email. One email in particular caught my eye. It was from our adoption agency.
I opened the letter to reveal the color photo of a 14-month-old boy from Korea sitting expressionless in his pink hanbok, a traditional form of Korean dress. He looked like an emperor, wise beyond his years. The agency wanted to know if we would like him for a son. Like a junior high love note, all you do is mark Yes or No.
In complete shock, we immediately wrote back: Yes! A million times, yes!
And then I panicked (or was that motherly instinct kicking in)? We had no idea when our son was coming, but we had a lot to do. In our case, nine months of preparation was a luxury we didn’t have. We signed a forest’s worth of forms, spent a small fortune on photocopies, passports and postage, and tracked down a notary public in a bar (she went to our church and was kind enough to meet us in a central location). The paperwork took weeks, although the coordinating agencies assured us they would do all they could to have our son home from Korea quickly.
It took three long months of updates and progress reports from the Korean agency before Lee came home. Then, without warning, the local agency called one evening to give us flight and pick up information. We would meet our son, Lee, at Denver International Airport in three days. Three days! There is a lot you can do in three days, but I’m still not convinced preparing for a child is one of them.
It was November 2004 in northeastern Wyoming: cold, snowy, and hunting season. While I frantically called a friend to take me to the store to buy food, diapers, and clothing for our soon-to-be-arriving child, my husband dressed – and I don’t mean in haute couture – an elk in our garage. Reverting to his inner caveman seemed authentic to him in that moment, if completely insane to me.
Meanwhile, my hunting and gathering instincts were completely confounded by the ridiculous amount of sizes, textures and brands of everything toddler. I knew Lee was now 19 months old, but I had not stopped to convert his recently reported height and weight from the metric measurements Korea uses. I went by imagination, which completely summed up my parenting strategy right then. I also had to think about food. Did he drink milk, eat baby food or prefer fresh elk meat? I left the store frantic. I had not even thought to get a toy.
Adoption stories on television are inspirational and well-choreographed. You might think I, too, was overcome with delight and wonder like the families portrayed on the Hallmark channel. In truth, I was overwhelmed with fear. Would Lee scream at me, a stranger, when I took him from the airport? How would we explain this was our child as we wrestled him into our car? What if he hated me? I secretly wondered if buyer’s remorse applied to the plane ticket purchased for my son.
Dave and I began our trip to the airport at 6:00 a.m. in a horrendous snowstorm that paralyzed our state. Our trek across the wide-open plains of Wyoming while listening to In-Flight Korean (I figured it would be helpful to know a few phrases) was painfully slow and treacherous. The In-Flight Korean CD mostly provided comic relief, because there was no way I could learn that language in an afternoon. By the time I had any use for Korean that day, I had learned to say, “Hello, my name is Mrs. Kim,” which as we know is a lie. My name is not Mrs. Kim.
After more than six hours on the road, the snow-white meringue peaks of the airport appeared in the distance. There is video footage of us driving up to the airport, confirming the following conversation.
“There it is,” Dave, my husband, whispered incredibly.
“Oh, my God,” I said with stunned horror.
That is the extent of our dialogue. The footage consists mostly of me filming my husband’s profile against endless bleak, snowy pastures. It’s more of a silent film, a very tense silent film where you expect someone to jump out of the car.
We morphed into people who, even if for a brief moment, allowed an irrational thought to become a viable option.
“We could just not show up,” I said out loud.
“They would probably find us.”
“Would it be illegal if we just didn’t go?” I honestly wondered.
We forcefully steered ourselves into the parking lot. I was chewing gum like a mad cow hoarding cud.
We emerged from the car as though we were doomed. It was a Hallmark moment, alright, but not the kind you see on TV.
“Have you ever been so scared in your life?”
“No,” replied my husband. We weren’t even speaking in hyperbole.
I was physically shaking. I just knew this poor little boy would recoil in terror at the well-intentioned white lady trying to take him out of the airport against his will. There would probably be equally well-meaning bystanders who would call the police to save the helpless little boy. My mind could no longer process what was happening. We solemnly marched our way to the arrival gate and waited while trying to stand upright. There were no banners, no family members, and no cheering. It’s hard to convey the depth of isolation one can feel amid a throng of travelers.
The passengers disembarked in a sea of faces, first one wave, then another.
And then he emerged, dead asleep on the chaperone’s shoulder.
Our journey of a million steps was beginning with this one amazing milestone.
The Busy Buddha
I love this healthy option. Enjoy!
FIND RECIPE HERE!
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?